BAFTA-nominated preschool learning and entertainment platform Hopster has launched a new, original animated series Saturday Club as of April 1. Created and developed by kids’ media co. Dog Ears with funding from Northern Ireland Screen, the pre-k series is designed to nurture empathy in young viewers.
Miki Chojnacka, Chief Content and Creative Executive of Hopster, said, “At Hopster we believe that good entertainment should always teach kids something new. While academic skills are important, we think that children’s socio-emotional growth is often overlooked. So we decided to partner with Dog Ears to create a preschool show and accompanying game that nurture kids’ emotional intelligence and encourages them to consider the feelings of others.”
Saturday Club follows the adventures of four friends – Tian, Jo, Suzy and Jamie – who meet in a play den each Saturday to discuss their week and play make believe. Each of the six three-minute episodes introduces a situation where preschoolers have to put themselves in others’ shoes in order to better understand them. Children can learn to recognize and imagine various emotions and are invited to think about how others feel.
The series is directed by John McDaid (Puffin Rock) and Robin Davey (Hey Duggee) with Ellen Solberg (Two Minute Tales) and Fionnuala Deane serving as executive producers.
John McDaid, Creative Director at Dog Ears, said, “We’ve always written empathy into our stories, but we thought ‘Let’s make an entire show about empathy!’ – A show about stepping into someone else’s shoes and how that can change your view of the world for the better. The power of empathy, particularly in the development of young children, is something I’ve been fascinated with for a long time. Watching my own children and how they respond and empathize with others was the catalyst for Saturday Club.”
Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, added, “Northern Ireland Screen was delighted to provide development funding to Dog Ears for the creation of Saturday Club. Dog Ears is a prominent member of our thriving animation sector and its team has a great reputation for working alongside major global names in children’s programming. Saturday Club is an exciting and unique concept and we are really looking forward to seeing the end result.”
Accompanying the new animation, Hopster has created a game that helps children further explore feelings and emotions with the help of the Saturday Club characters. Developed with the support of EmpathyLab, a U.K. not-for-profit organization that inspires children to put empathy into action, and is the founder of Empathy Day. The game draws on experiences from EmpathyLab’s primary schools program, which is designed to build real-life empathy skills in the classroom. Launching on the App Store, Hopster Saturday Club: Empathy lets kids match emotions to expressions, create fun faces and track their feelings with an emotions calendar.
Saturday Club the 6 x 3’ series is available worldwide on the Hopster mobile app and on the Hopster channel, available on select smart TVs such as Amazon Fire TV, EE TV and Roku in the U.K., Comcast Xfinity, DISH and Sling TV in the U.S., and on many other platforms around the world.